- A stroke occurs due to sudden interruption of blood supply of the brain
- Difficulty in speaking is a sign of stroke
- A stroke is a medical emergency which requires urgent treatment
According to the World Stroke Organisation, 1 in 4 adults over the age of 25 years will have a stroke in their lifetime globally. Stroke is also one of the leading causes of death and disability in India. It is a brain attack similar to a heart attack. In a heart attack the blood vessel of the heart gets blocked, reducing the blood supply and damaging that area. In a brain attack or stroke, the same process of blocking of blood vessels to the brain occurs where one part of the brain does not get adequate blood supply, causing that area to become dead. This results in loss of brain function. The part of the brain damaged does not recover causing severe disability for life.
World Stroke Day: Here’s how you can prevent stroke
Types of stroke:
Ischemic stroke is the commonest type of stroke and accounts to 80% of all stroke cases. Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia).
Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures, causing blood to come out of the blood vessel and reach the brain. It accounts for 10-20% of all stroke cases.
- High cholesterol level
- Family history of the disease
6 steps to follow for preventing stroke:
1. Be Physically Active
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can result in weight gain and obesity which can trigger diabetes and high blood pressure. Setting achievable targets like exercising for 15-30 minutes daily can be a good start. Engaging in fun physical activities like a game of badminton, cricket, jogging or walking is recommended.
2. Consume a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by consuming a nutritious and well-balanced diet can reduce the risk of acquiring stroke-related health complications. Consuming a diet rich in fibre and low in fats is recommended. Eat plenty of fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, fish and lean meats for adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. In addition to ensuring nutrition, a healthy diet can also keep weight in control.
3. Quit Smoking and limit alcohol consumption
Smoking increases the risk of clogged blood vessels and build-up of plaque leading to narrowed arteries. Besides, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and hypertension thereby increasing the risk of stroke.
4. Control cholesterol levels
An imbalance in cholesterol levels can be damaging to the heart as well as the brain. An excess of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which carries and delivers cholesterol, or fat deposits to the cells can cause the fat to build up in blood vessels and narrow them. Consuming a diet low in saturated fats, exercise and cholesterol-lowering medication can help keep cholesterol in control and stroke at bay.
Also read: How to recognise a stroke
5. Control blood pressure
Consistently high blood pressure can increase the plaque build-up and thicken artery walls 4-6 times more, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Blood pressure can be maintained by reducing intake of sodium, alcohol and caffeine. Engaging in regular physical activity can also help in regulating blood pressure.
6. Manage underlying health conditions
Managing existing disease conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation or a previous heart attack is crucial to combating stroke. In case someone has experienced a mini stroke before, managing symptoms is important. It is advisable to consult a doctor about assessing the risk to stroke if someone has suffered a heart attack or experienced symptoms of irregular or abnormal heart rate. Patients can be prescribed medication to avoid blood clots and control heart rate, depending on the severity of the condition.
(Dr. V. P. Singh Chairman Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta)
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